Steamed White Sugar Cake (Bak Tong Gou) 蒸白糖糕

by Angie Liew
Steamed White Sugar Cake
Steamed White Sugar Cake / Bak Tong Gou Recipe Video 蒸白糖糕食谱视频
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Steamed White Sugar Cake

A Traditional Chinese Sweet Snack: Steamed White Sugar Cake (Bak Tong Gou) 蒸白糖糕

Steamed White Sugar Cake is a classic in Chinese bakeries. It is a traditional Chinese snack that is white in colour, sweet and light as it is steamed. Freshly Steamed White Sugar Cake is deliciously soft and moist. The cake is not too sweet, slightly chewy and is wonderfully spongy from the honeycomb-like appearance on the inside of the cake. Making it is like renewing childhood memories as it is a favourite childhood cake for many people.

Steamed White Sugar Cake

Deliciously Soft and Sweet Steamed Cake with A Honeycomb Texture

The recipe for Steamed White Sugar Cake is super easy. Making this cake is very straight forward with just a few ingredients namely rice flour, instant yeast, sugar and water.  Start by dissolving instant yeast with warm water and leave to proof till foamy. Meanwhile, mix together rice flour and water. Use room temperature or cool water and a whisk to mix until there are no lumps in the batter. Next, add hot sugar syrup into the rice flour mixture and continue mixing till well combined.

Set aside to cool to lukewarm before adding the foamy instant yeast. Cover and leave in a warm enviroment until big bubbles appear on the surface of batter. When the yeast has fermented, the cake is ready to be steamed. Steam over high heat for 30 minutes and remove. And we are done! Using Pandan leaves adds an additional soft and sweet aroma to this simple steamed rice cake too.

Steamed White Sugar Cake

A Favourite Kuih That Is So Easy To Make

What is so unique about Steamed White Sugar Cake is that it is such a simple cake but it is just so delicious. This cake is sweet but not overly sweet since the recipe requires fermentation with yeast. After steaming, it has very nice fluffy big bubbles inside the cake. Certainly a very pretty sight indeed.

As always, Enjoy!

Steamed White Sugar Cake

Steamed White Sugar Cake (Bak Tong Gou) 蒸白糖糕

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Steamed White Sugar Cake (Bak Tong Gou) 蒸白糖糕

Recipe by Huang Kitchen, Angie Liew
Steamed White Sugar Cake, or commonly known as Bak Tong Gou (白糖糕) is a nostalgic classic in Chinese bakeries. A traditional chinese snack, these Steamed White Sugar Cakes are deliciously soft and moist. Best known for its wonderfully spongy honeycomb-like texture. Its so easy to recreate this traditional kuih at home.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Malaysian
Keyword: kuih, steamed
Servings: 8 people


Ingredient A:

  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp water, lukewarm

Ingredient B:

  • 300 grams rice flour, sifted
  • 280 grams water, room temperature

Ingredient C:

  • 200 grams sugar
  • 340 grams water, room temperature
  • 3 pieces pandan leaves, knotted


  • 1/2 tsp cooking oil


    Proof the Yeast:

    • To proof instant yeast.
      Start by dissolving 1 teaspoon instant yeast in 1 tbsp lukewarm water.
    • Proof yeast for 10 minutes.
      Set aside the mixture for 10 minutes or until the mixture turns foamy.

    Make the Cake Batter:

    • Rice cake ingredients
      Have ready rice flour and water.
    • Preparing steamed rice cake batter.
      Place sifted rice flour into a medium size bowl and add in water. Whisk and combine till you get a thick and smooth batter. Then set aside.
    • Preparing steamed rice cake ingredients
      Next, have ready sugar, water and knotted pandan leaves.
    • Dissolve sugar in water.
      In a saucepan, heat up the sugar with water and pandan leaves until sugar dissolves.
    • Add boiling sugar water to rice flour mixture
      Then slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the rice flour mixture, stirring it constantly to prevent lumps forming.
    • Cool the rice cake batter before adding yeast.
      Leave aside the rice flour mixture to cool until warm. (about 30 C)
    • Add in yeast.
      When cooled, add in the foamy instant yeast mixture and stir well to combine everything together.
    • Cover with plastic wrap and proof 2 hours.
      Then cover with plastic wrap and leave to proof in a warm environment for 2 hours.
    • Proof till large bubbles form on surface.
      Or until large bubbles form on the surface.
    • Add oil into batter before steaming.
      When ready, add in 1/2 tsp of cooking oil. Stir the batter again, mixing well. And we are ready to steam the cake.

    Steam the rice cake:

    • Prepare steamer to steam the rice cake.
      Prepare steamer by bringing the water in the steamer to a rapid boil.
    • Brush a 10 inch cake pan with cooking oil.
      Brush a 10 inch round cake pan with cooking oil.
    • Pour batter into oiled pan.
      Pour the ready batter into the oiled cake pan.
    • Rest batter till small bubbles appear.
      Rest 20 minutes until small bubbles appear.
    • Place batter into steamer.
      Place in steamer and steam for 30 minutes on high heat.
    • Steamed White Cake
      Remove the cake pan from steamer and let cool on the counter before cutting the cake.

    Serve the rice cake:

    • Use a spatula to loosen the edge of cake pan.
      Once it is cool enough to handle, gently run a spatula along the edges to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then remove the rice cake from pan.
    • Steamed White Sugar Cake
      Simply cut the white rice cake into slices and served as snacks.


Recipe Video


To make this rice cake, the yeast used must be fresh and active so that the cake can rise and have the honeycomb spongy texture.  After adding lukewarm water to the yeast, it should have bubbles, turn foamy after 5 to 10 minutes. 
Pour the hot syrup into the rice flour mixture very slowly and stir continuously to prevent lumps. This will ensure a smooth batter.
If you do not see large bubbles on the surface of batter after proofing for 2 hours, let it continue to proof for another 30 minutes.
Make sure to stir the mixture well before pouring the rice flour batter into the cake pan.
Avoid over steaming the cake batter as this will make the rice cake dry. The texture should be soft and moist.
You can adjust the amount of sugar if you like it sweeter or less sweet. 
Cut the steamed rice cake only when it is completely cooled, about 1 to 2 hours.

Leave a Comment


Hannah September 16, 2020 - 6:40 pm

I tried this but the smell of yeast turned out too strong. What does 10minutes mean? Do I prepare the mixture 10minutes before pouring it to B mixture? I’m thinking I might have it too early cause it was waiting for almost 30minutes.

Angie Liew September 17, 2020 - 3:26 pm

The 10 minutes wait is to make sure the yeast you are using is active (not expired). So, as long as it turns foamy, you can pour into mixture B. Thanks.

rita September 7, 2020 - 12:39 pm

Hi, After pour the ready batter into the pan, should I leave it to rest for 20 mins before steaming?

Angie Liew September 7, 2020 - 12:48 pm

Best to do that. Even if you don’t it should be fine as long as you leave to proof until big bubbles formed earlier. Thanks

rita September 7, 2020 - 12:38 pm

Hi, After pour the ready batter into the pan, should I leave it to rest for 20 mins before steaming?

Angie Liew September 7, 2020 - 12:49 pm

Yes, you can

Helen August 13, 2020 - 6:54 am

What if you don’t have pandan leaves?

Angie Liew September 4, 2020 - 12:03 am

Just leave out the pandan leaves. It will taste just as great.

Jen August 1, 2020 - 10:12 pm

I only have 9″ round pan. Should I make any adjustments?

Angie Liew August 7, 2020 - 4:33 pm

It should be fine. There is no need to make any adjustment.The cake will just be thicker/ higher. Thanks

TravelPhotoGal July 30, 2020 - 5:57 pm

Aloha from Maui, Hawaii and thank you so much for this. After 2 failed attempts using another recipe (with oven proofing), your recipe came up perfect even though my instant yeast (different brands, multiple packets) wouldn’t bubble as much as yours. I didn’t have the leaves either, so I am thrilled.

Angie Liew August 7, 2020 - 4:34 pm

So glad you like it. Thanks for the feedback. Enjoy!

geo young July 2, 2020 - 1:57 pm

Will it taste different if I leave out the pandan leaves? I am not sure I can find it in the stores where I live.

Angie Liew July 6, 2020 - 11:55 pm

Yes, it will taste as great without the pandan leaves. It’s fine to leave it out. Thanks

yen August 11, 2020 - 8:06 am

Can i just leave the flour mix to proof in normal room temperature?

Angie Liew September 4, 2020 - 12:04 am

Yes, just leave to proof at room temperature.

Julie May 31, 2020 - 7:38 am

Hi Angie! Love your site…….just wondering if you can make the recipe for steamed white sugar cake without the pandan leaves. I don’t have easy access to that, and I don’t remember my mom using that when she made this for us as kids! Will it taste completely different???? Thanks!

Angie Liew May 31, 2020 - 9:28 am

Hi Julie, you certainly can leave out the Pandan Leaves if it’s not available. It’s just to add extra fragrance to the cake. Taste just as nice without. No worries. So happy to know you like our site!

yen August 11, 2020 - 7:55 pm

Can i check if I can just leave the mix to proof at room temperature as i do not have an oven hence no warm environment for proofing it? Will i need to allocate more time if i just leave it covered at room temperature?

Angie Liew August 11, 2020 - 9:16 pm

Just leave to proof at room temperature will do. There is no need to put in an oven. Just proof till you see bubbles formed. Thanks

yen August 12, 2020 - 11:40 am

Thanks. Cos earlier i had tried another recipe online and i left the mix to proof at rm temperature for 2 hours. I saw only some small bubbles on top. When i went to steam it for 40 mins, it remained wet and soggy. Was wondering if it is because the proofing was done at rm temp

Angie Liew August 12, 2020 - 12:37 pm

When there is little bubbles, just leave for a little while longer. Sometimes the temperature varies a bit depending on where you leave it. Thanks

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